In the past twelves days, Dan, Max and I have been in Minnesota for Christmas.
Then we were in Milwaukee.
Then (sans Max) we went to Madison, where we visited with
Kelly and Sarah. We walked State Street, stocked up at Trader Joe’s, attempted to visit the new student union (which was sadly closed for the holidays), ate stir-fry at Flattop, then cookie dough egg rolls, tacos and grilled cheese at Bluephies. And wrapped it all up with some Greenbush doughnuts. (Hey, we hadn’t been back since our wedding in May 2010, so we had to fit in all our favorite foods!)
And…back in Milwaukee for New Year’s and Rose Bowl. By the end, we were happy to have seen everyone, but definitely ready to get home and back into our regular routines.
Our plan was to get up at 4 am yesterday and leave around 5 so that we could beat the worst of the Chicago traffic and get home at a reasonable time (Yes, we drove to all of these places and no, we will not be doing it again next year. That is over 40 hours of driving total. Ouch. At least the weather was uncharacteristically warm for the Ithaca–>Minneapolis and Minneapolis–>Milwaukee legs of the trip, so the roads were clear.)
Twenty five miles into the drive, though, Dan struggled to keep the car in our lane as the ABS and emergency brakes lit up. We pulled off the freeway and stopped at a Citgo, thinking the crosswinds were pulling and pushing on our rooftop bag and causing all the problems. Once everything was stuffed in the back seat, we started driving.
We didn’t make it far. It sounded like there was an airplane on top of our car (we were near the airport and actually briefly hoped that the noise we were hearing was from a plane) and the back of the car was dragging. We called for a tow and requested that they take the car to Dan’s regular car guy.
Dan’s family has bought all of their cars in the past 20-ish years from Ralph, and he did all the service work on our current station wagon until we moved to New York. We knew we could trust him and that he would do his best to get us back on the road as quickly as possible.
When we had our annual inspection back in June, the (incredibly overpriced) garage told us that we wouldn’t pass (and therefore wouldn’t get our registration tags) unless they did a ton of brake work. Turns out that either those parts they gave us were faulty or the installation was bad and the back bearings essentially disintegrated… a mere 6 months later.
By noon, Ralph had the back breaks functional and safe again, but noticed that the front bearings were starting to go. He said we could probably make it home, but with an 800 mile drive ahead of us, we didn’t want to risk it. Plus, we don’t know where we’re going to take the car in New York yet, since we obviously aren’t going back to the garage that did our inspection this summer. So it wasn’t until after 4pm that we were back on the road, putting us back in Ithaca around… 7 am.
And that, right there, is why you didn’t get my “how to pull together a dinner with what remains in your pantry after nearly two weeks away and a very long drive that leaves you with no desire to cook” post.